A Flathead District Court judge will determine if the media can be present during an evidence suppression hearing for a Kalispell man accused of murdering a mother and daughter last Christmas.
Tyler Miller, currently in jail on charges that he shot and killed Jaimi Hurlbert, 35, and her 15-year-old daughter Alyssa Burkett, appeared before District Judge Stewart Stadler on June 17.
Miller’s attorneys are attempting to suppress Miller’s confessions to the crimes, for which the Flathead County Attorney’s Office is seeking the death penalty.
His lawyers, public defenders Noel Larrivee and Ed Sheehy, argued that having the media present for a July 8 suppression hearing would be a “clear and present danger to (Miller’s) right to a fair trial.”
Miller’s attorneys claim their client was high on methamphetamines when he confessed during multiple interviews with law enforcement. The suppression hearing would explore Miller’s statements and the circumstances surrounding them, Sheehy said.
Deputy County Attorney Lori Adams opposed the idea of barring the media from the July 8 hearing, saying that the information in question is already open to the public in multiple court documents. She said the media’s presence would not spoil a future jury pool in Flathead County.
Stadler then asked several members of the media present for the hearing if they had a response to the defense’s attempt to bar them from the hearing. None responded.
Stadler also questioned the defense attorneys about a motion Miller had filed on his own, in which he requested that he be notified before his attorneys file documents for him. The court returned the motion since Miller has counsel, Stadler said.
“In the future, I don’t want things filed on my behalf unless I see them,” Miller told Stadler.
Miller said he did not disagree with the filings. Stadler told him and his attorneys to work it out among themselves. If Miller does not agree with the resolution, he can bring the matter to the court’s attention.
Miller, who changed his name from Tyler Cheetham in 2009, remains in custody at the county jail. His attorneys are also challenging the constitutionality of the state’s death penalty laws.
The Flathead County Attorney’s Office has not sought capital punishment since 1983.
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